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This isn’t really happening, is it? There are four NBA teams remaining in the Eastern Conference and four left out West. Two of them are the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Is there a chance these two squads could rekindle that old 1980s rivalry with a meeting in the 2023 NBA Finals?

There was nothing bigger in the 1980s than Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

James Worthy of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics during an NBA game circa 1984 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images.

The 2023 NBA postseason is bringing back some 1980s vibes, Heck, the New York Knicks even won a round in the playoffs.

It’s not surprising the second-seeded Boston Celtics are still in contention. A year after falling in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Celtics are hungry to return to the championship round. With the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks ousted in the first round by the Miami Heat, the door is wide open for the Celtics.

The Lakers are the seventh seed in the Western Conference, and the playoffs weren’t even a given a month ago. They got healthy and hot down the stretch and upset the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round. On Tuesday, they went on the road and stunned the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the conference semifinals.

Back in the 1980s, there was nothing bigger in the NBA than Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers. The teams dominated the decade, combining for eight championships. In each year of the decade, either the Celtics or Lakers reached the NBA Finals, facing each other three times. The Celtics defeated the Lakers in 1984, while the Lakers came out on top in 1985 and 1987.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson opened the doors to a new NBA. They carried the momentum from their epic 1979 NCAA title game into the NBA. They took the league to another level. The NBA couldn’t get enough of Celtics vs. Lakers, so it scheduled preseason games between the teams to help build the hype. It became the biggest rivalry in the game.

Could we see more Celtics vs. Lakers in 2023?

If the basketball gods have any say, the Celtics and Lakers will meet in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. If reality has any say, it’s an unlikely matchup.

While unlikely, it’s not impossible. The Lakers have a leg up on the Warriors after rallying for a 117-112 victory in the series opener. Anthony Davis led the way with 30 points and 23 rebounds. Anytime you can pair a healthy Davis with LeBron James, there’s a chance. Three more wins and the Lakers are playing in the conference finals.

The Celtics overcame an embarrassing Game 1 loss to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers by making a strong statement in Game 2. After falling 119-115 at home to a short-handed Sixers team playing without league MVP Joel Embiid, Boston got mad. The Celtics began to pull away in the second quarter and never looked back in Wednesday’s 121-87 victory.

The Celtics are the favorite to win the championship. The Denver Nuggets are the top seed out West and hold a 2-0 series lead in their semifinal round against the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to take some work to bring back that ’80s rivalry, but anything is possible.

The Celtics and Lakers are tied for the most NBA championships with 17. Watching them fight it out for No. 18 would be special and bring back plenty of memories.


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